Michael Brod’s current installation, Whoever Emerges, combines his interest in the symbols of life and death with the juxtaposition of visual and aural forms. Brod is inspired by the movements of art and writing that occurred at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, namely the Italian Futurists, led by Filippo Marinetti, and the work of Guillaume Apollinaire, the pioneering painter-poet of the French Avant Garde in Paris.
Brod was born in New York City and grew up in Los Angeles. There, he came to see California as the edge of the Western world. On his eventual return to New York, Brod saw the city logically followed as the center of the Western world. His lives in both cities has greatly influenced the way he views culture and history, and subsequently his body of work. The edge and center of art continues to drive his creations.
Whoever Emerges is the continuation of an earlier idea he collaborated on in the 1970s with his close friend Frankie Brown. Brown had the idea to put together a traveling exhibit of contemporary sculpture to neglected corners of the US, especially small towns where art is often unannounced and uninvited; a foreigner, if you will. The question of a name for the exhibit came up. Since the exhibit was going to be for random audiences it was decided the title should reflect the audience it was intended for and Whoever, the avatar, was born.
As a noun Whoever represented a sort of Avatar for any and everyone. Whoever became the title of Brod’s Los Angeles exhibition Whoever in Transit. Whoever in Transit consisted of a large coffin, dome, two chairs, a funeral bier, and an elaborate surfacing that acted as a painting in itself on the interior of the storefront. Viewers could walk by but not go in. As an oddity along the beachfront, it challenged passersby to question what they were observing.
Around the time of Whoever in Transit in 1970s Venice Beach, Brod began to integrate poetry into the dome shapes that had been in his corpus of work since departing from the constraints of the ceramic arts. The dome as image and object commanded Brod’s attention for many years, and provided the basis for a transition from potter to an artist of mixed mediums. Brod’s travels in Asia and the Middle East revealed the dome as a ubiquitous and archetypal form. From the great Buddhist monument Borabadour to the Dome of the Rock, domes exist everywhere, and their significance is multi-layered. The image of the dome has the same universal recognition as the coffin. The universality of life and death, that it is something anyone/whoever on the globe of any nationality, socio-economic class or gender experiences, is the red thread running through Brod’s work. The dome poems united the aural and visual by giving textual meaning a shape.
Brod continues to amass and interpret the stuff of life (newspaper clippings, images from magazines and found objects) through his assemblage poems. He is in the process of assembling a portfolio of his extensive body of work.